Times lauds states

Last week a New York Times editorial praised Nevada and other states that are using their clout to challenge federal marijuana prohibition policies:

“The drive to end prohibition comes after decades in which marijuana laws led to millions of people being arrested and tens of thousands sent to prison, a vast majority of whom never committed any violent crimes. These policies have had a particularly devastating effect on minority communities. Federal and state governments have spent untold billions of dollars on enforcement, money that could have been much better spent on mental health and substance abuse treatment. … States are driving the change in marijuana policy because they see the damage created by draconian drug laws on communities, families and state budgets. It’s time the federal government acknowledged these costs and got out of the way of states adopting more rational laws.”

Nevada anti-marijuana leader Pat Hickey responded, “The New York Times writer surely knows that marijuana legalization has not reduced racial disparities in drug arrests in Colorado, especially among Latino and African-American youth. It’s true that public monies would be better spent on mental health and substance abuse treatments, as opposed to more incarcerations. The problem with this poorly written initiative (Question 2), is that it doesn’t earmark even one penny of anticipated tax revenue to the establishment of a public health network needed to restrict youth access. Rationality would dictate that serious public policy decisions--such as recreational drug policy, criminal justice reform, and much needed funding for education--would be better done in the open forum of the Nevada Legislature. There, every interested party, including the public, would be engaged in the process.”